S-500: Russia's new air defense that could win a war against NATO

10:30 26.05.2024 •

Russia is banking on its advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, particularly the S-500 Prometheus, to counter Western weapons aiding Ukraine's defense, writes ‘The National Interest’.

The Kremlin hopes its forces’ advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems will thwart the Western weapons Kyiv is receiving to bolster its defense. Moscow will rely strongly on its S-500 Prometheus SAM system, which it touts as a “fifth-generation killer.”

Last month, Russia’s defense minister at the time, Sergei Shoigu, announced that the Russian Armed Forces would receive the first batch of Prometheus systems later this year, The Eurasian Times reported. According to Shoigu, the weapon will be delivered in two variations: as long-range air defense missile systems and as anti-missile defense complexes. As Ukrainian forces begin to fly the American-made F-16 Fighting Falcon, the Kremlin is depending on its self-proclaimed powerhouse SAM system to take down these fourth-generation fighters.

Russia reported in 2018 that it had conducted the longest-range SAM test with the S-500. According to state-run media, the S-500 was capable of striking targets 300 miles away.

One year later, Russia’s Defense Ministry published footage claiming to show the successful launch of a new anti-ballistic missile system, which was suspected again to be the S-500 Prometheus.

As reported by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the S-500 can fire 40N6M long-range missiles that can travel to a range of up to 400 kilometers, while 77N6 series interceptors can reach approximately 600 km.

Moscow contends that its new Prometheus system is the only weapon able to intercept the country’s Kinzhal hypersonic missiles. The Kh-47M2 Kinzhal, designated by NATO as Dagger, has an estimated range of around 300 miles and a reported top speed of Mach 10. Reportedly capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads, the Kinzhal is one of Moscow’s most formidable weapons.

The S-500’s claimed ability to detect and intercept airborne targets up to 600 km means it can engage incoming threats well before they are able to reach military assets or other critical infrastructure. As outlined by Army Recognition, “Moreover, the S-500 Prometheus system integrates advanced radar technology and command-and-control capabilities, ensuring seamless detection, tracking, and engagement of multiple targets simultaneously, including stealth aircraft and missiles that employ low-observable technology to evade detection.”

The potential addition of the S-500 Prometheus could change the conflict and give Russia a noticeable advantage, stresses ‘The National Interest’.


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